The building at 190 Bowery is a mystery: a graffiti-covered Gilded Age relic, with a beat-up wooden door that looks like it hasn’t been opened since La Guardia was mayor. A few years ago, that described a lot of the neighborhood, but with the Bowery Hotel and the New Museum, the Rogan and John Varvatos boutiques, 190 is now an anomaly, not the norm. Why isn’t some developer turning it into luxury condos?
Because Jay Maisel, the photographer who bought it 42 years ago for $102,000, still lives there, with his wife, Linda Adam Maisel, and daughter, Amanda. It isn’t a decrepit ruin; 190 Bowery is a six-story, 72-room, 35,000-square-foot (depending on how you measure) single-family home.
There's another building that I've been curious about: 421 E. Sixth Street between First Avenue and Avenue A.
I was told years back that an artist lives there. Indeed.
According to Forgotten New York: "421 was a Con Edison substation built in 1920-21 that converted direct current to alternating. It is at present (2008) the studio of modern artist/sculptor Walter De Maria. His most famous installation is The Lightning Field (1977) is permanently installed in the desert at Quemado, New Mexico, and was commissioned by the Dia Art Foundation, who run the site and provide accommodation for visitors. The work consists of hundreds of stainless steel rods projecting from the ground to a uniform height of around six metres (20 feet). Rows of 20 rods extend for one mile, while rows of 16 extend for a kilometre, making a square grid of standard and metric proportions. The work is designed to attract spectacular lightning strikes."
NY Songlines has a few more details: "This building, which looks like a giant-robot laboratory, was actually built in 1919-21 as a New York Edison transformer substation — turning DC current into AC. Since 1980 it's been owned by artist Walter De Maria."
Wonder if we'll ever get to see the inside of this space...
Miss Representation on 421 E. Sixth St.